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Back from the Dead

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  582 ratings  ·  93 reviews
This inspiring memoir from sports and cultural icon Bill Walton recounts his devastating injuries and amazing recoveries, set in the context of his UCLA triumphs under John Wooden, his storied NBA career, and his affinity for music and the Grateful Dead.

In February 2008, Bill Walton suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse—the culmination of a lifetime of injuries—that left
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 22nd 2016 by Simon Schuster (first published March 4th 2016)
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Rob Melich Thank you. I found this the most male book I've read in decades. Not only is Susan not mentioned, but there is little or no mention of other women…moreThank you. I found this the most male book I've read in decades. Not only is Susan not mentioned, but there is little or no mention of other women except his mom and current wife. I found that odd but then again, it is very much a locker room view of the world throughout most of the basketball discussion.
It was sad that no reference to Susan, I was in Portland when the Walton's lived there. The public image presented was that of a happy, loving young couple. Clearly the image and the reality were different.(less)
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3.85  · 
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 ·  582 ratings  ·  93 reviews

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Clif Brittain
Mar 27, 2016 rated it liked it
If Bill Walton were a foot shorter, he’d be just another Deadhead.

After listening to Scott Simon’s interview with Bill Walton, (, I was excited to read his book. Walton sounded so interesting and wonderful in this interview that I decided to overcome my aversion to all things basketball and buy the book.

After reading the book, I have a greater aversion to basketball than ever. I admire Bill Walton for his ability to overcome incredible pain and achieve a
Andy Miller
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Bill Walton's autobiography is true to his person. Just as Bill Walton was never remotely "just a basketball player" this book is clearly not just a basketball book. Walton's passions, eclectic interests, friendships, family and of course basketball and injuries all jump out at the reader.
Walton starts with a portrait of an idyllic if different life growing up in San Diego. Basketball soon consumes him and leads him to UCLA. While Walton clearly reveres John Wooden, his candid story shows a c
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, sports
I was a good reads first giveaway winner of the book "Back From the Dead" As it says in the title; Bill Walton is one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history. This is his memoir. One of the first things that Bill Walton makes clear, he is a big rock and roll fan. His favorite group is The Grateful Dead. He devotes each of his chapters to quotes from his favorite songs. Many of them from The Grateful Dead. he has been to over 450 concerts by his favorite band. He is even friends with the member ...more
Malin Friess
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
5 stars! Really..5 stars for a basketball autobiography! Bill Walton along with his red hair, love for long bike rides and (like the time he rode up Halelakaa in Maui) is back from the dead.

I was born in Portland Oregon in 1976. In 1977 with the help from a red-haired hippy (Grateful Dead Fanatic) named Bill Walton the Portland Trailblazers won their only NBA championship and celebrated with a championship parade. I wonder if my parents took me in a stroller to Tom McCall Waterfront Park to see
Jim Cooper
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, sports, basketball
Bill Walton is a great story-teller. I don't necessarily believe everything he says, and it would be interesting to hear the same stories from the perspective of the other people involved (and I did some googling to find out), but it was excellent to hear him tell them. His enthusiasm is infectious, and it must have been great to be on a team with him. His relationship with Larry Bird was the best part of the book.
Beth Neu
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was an excellent autobiography. I was first of all impressed with how well written it is. Then I was also impressed with how much Bill remembered from his youth and his appreciation for his family and those coaches and other players who inspired him. Of course this is HIS autobiography, so he can include or dismiss any part of his life he'd like, but he never mentions his first wife AT ALL, so there seems to be a hole. And since she is the mother of his four sons (who he does tell about sev ...more
Eileen Granfors
Mar 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Walton's book reveals the physical cost to one's body to play pro sports. I enjoyed going back to some of my grad school days, reading THE DAILY BRUIN and counting off UCLA wins. The pro parts were not as interesting to me, but Walton reveals his down years as well as the championships. I loved the parts about his sons and wish we knew more about his wives. Again, the whole issue of our hero-worship society stands out. Bill was not really prepared for the level of ridiculousness, having had pare ...more
Jason Anthony
Jul 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
It's hard rooting against someone in crippling pain, but Walton finds a way for me to do so. Everyone has that one boss who talks of the old days and name drops people you never knew existed like they were Jesus and does so in excruciating detail. This is a book of that. Walton admittedly acknowledges his cocky, brash nature especially while on UCLA but too often this book is a mix of "I LOVE THE GRATEFUL DEAD!!!" and self-pity. Go read a John Wooden biography instead.
Ann Gushurst
Jun 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
I started watching UCLA basketball during Bill Walton's senior year and followed his nba career afterwards. He was a joy to watch. His love of the game and enthusiasm for life come through in this memoir. Loved reading about all the basketball stars he's played with and the coaches he's played for. Great book for a basketball fan.
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Just barely a four. Sports fans will love it. I know that you're not required to tell everything in a memoir but it's a bit off-putting that the mother of his children isn't even mentioned.
Randall Harrison
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, sports
Bill Walton was a hero of my childhood. He was the baddest guy on the baddest basketball team in the land - UCLA. When playing pickup ball, we would take turns pretending we were him.

His pro career didn't materialize as imagined, given the injuries he suffered. Walton says he played less than 4 complete season's worth of ball during his 13-year NBA career. Despite this, he was still recognized as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history during the NBA's 50th anniversary celebration.

Rob Melich
Jun 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: aging, friendship, sports
From afar, as a b-ball fan and student, Bill Walton has been part of my life since 1969 (I was there when he lost to my UO team in 74 and won the NBA championship in 77). Coach Wooden and UCLA basketball go back to 1963 when I saw my first NCAA tournament game featuring Coach's first championship team. The standard that "Coach" set was and is remarkable influencing my life decades later.
This is a wonderful book for any basketball fan both college and pro. Equally inspiring for any avid cyclist,
Duke Cullinan
Jun 09, 2017 rated it liked it
I love sports biographies/memoirs. Despite it's problems and shortcomings, I enjoyed Back From The Dead. Walton writes just like he talks as an onscreen commentator - no number of hyperboles is enough, no number of letters in a pretentious and overblown word is enough. Still, he's got a great story in there. From national championships at UCLA to NBA championships in Portland and Boston to becoming a successful broadcaster, you can't go wrong.

Unfortunately, the glue that binds the book is the st
Mark Anderson
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
I thought the book was very well written. I learned many new things about this character known as Bill Walton. He is not just about basketball that is for certain. His bike is his most prized possession and he is the King of the Dead Heads! Definitely a "well-rounded" individual with many many interests. I was also curious as others have stated as to the reason for not ever mentioning his first wife, the mother of his 4 sons. Also...when he was starting his journey into broadcasting, from basket ...more
Jan 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: finished-reading
I knew Bill Walton as the greatest college basketball player ever. He was an NBA MVP and two time champion with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Boston Celtics. He's also voted one of the 50 greatest players ever and well as a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
I did not know how close he came to dying over the last decade. All the injuries of his playing career (which saw him miss almost five full seasons), finally manifested itself with a collapse spine that left him where he could only l
Jul 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: sports
Walton's narration in the audiobook was sub-par. He should have hired a professional narrator. Walton assembles together a typical sports memoir. Walton details his journey to the NBA and career after the NBA. One of Walton's biggest struggles in his life was with chronic pain hence the "Back from the Dead". Walton had over 30 leg/foot surgeries and a pretty major spine re-construction so he could continue to walk. This book falls short in empathy and self-pity. Walton comes off as a outspoken, ...more
Jim Patton
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Pretty biased review, as I am an Oregonian and Deadhead that lived here in 1977, but take all that away and I still loved this book! Bill's recovery from multiple physical breakdowns that lead to deep depression is legendary. And, it is very revealing to me as I, like others in Portland, felt we got short changed when he was injured so often. Pretty easy to not see the effect it had on Bill (or any other athlete). What a tragedy when he finally is recovering from his spine surgery and he gets ru ...more
Michael McQueen
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I came to love Walton through his work with the PAC12, specifically the Ducks. His positivity and flare are absolutely contagious. For a (mostly) basketball autobiography, most of which I was learning about for the first time, I think he did a spectacular job! He was able to take me on a rollercoaster of emotions, which is a mark of a good author in my book. At times the reading was a little slow for me, but I would highly recommend this to ANY fan!
kevin hardy
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful read!!

Back from the Dead deserves five wars because the words clearly come from an absolute place of passion. One may not always agree with Bill Walton always enjoy his ramblings during a basketball game. However, one can truly appreciate genuine passion when one reads it. This book is an example of this.
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great read for basketball fans like me. Especially blazer fans from the 'early' years in the 1970's. Provides great details about how the game was played back then. Relationships with players like Maurice Lucas and former coaches like John Wooden and Dr. Jack Ramsey.
Shawn P
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
really enjoyed the book, provided tons of insights into the challenges of being 7 ft and the super high expectations that comes with early success. Pulled me back to some pretty incredible moments in sports over the last 30 years.
Bob Eckel
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good memoir of a true character.

I have enjoyed greatly learning what makes Bill Walton tick. Having known of him, knowing he was a bit of a thorn in the side of Coach Wooden, this memoir have some great background of the person and free spirit that is Bill Walton.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book has lots of Grateful Dead symbols on the cover. And is titled back from the Dead. Very little was about Bills experiences as one of their most famous fans. What was there was uninteresting to me. The rest was about BW beating my Sixers. Who wants to read about that?
Michael Stetz
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of the better sports memoirs I’ve read. Worth a read just for the UCLA stories, Bill’s thoughts on the Vietnam War, and the Boston Celtics stories, especially involving Larry Bird.
May 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Poor writer who must get paid by the adjective. Still, an engrossing story of bravery.
Jo Ann
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Wasn't what I expected, but basketball fans would enjoy it..
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the top 5 sports books of all time.
Steve Paulson
I put off reading this for many months. When I first received it, a signed copy as a gift from my wonderful wife, I flipped through reading a bit here and there and was horrified by the poor writing. I stayed away for a long time...
Then my wife read it and enjoyed it so I started in. The writing, especially in the first half was still pretty atrocious. Some of his historical reporting appears to be off a bit with respect to at least one Portland Dead show he says he attended. And, the lack of in
White House Public Library
I recommend this book for everyone. You don't have to know who Bill Walton is (I didn't) or even be a basketball or sports fan to appreciate the unbelievable experience he went through. It helped enormously as a reader to know that his life took a positive turn; otherwise all the pain he went through, for years, would almost be too much to bear. It is hard to imagine all the pain he went through, let alone having the stamina to want to pull himself back from the emotional and physical brink.

Brad Feld
Apr 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I read Bill Walton's autobiography Back from the Dead on Saturday after my long run. It was a good one and does a great job of capturing a complicated life filled with super high peaks and extremely low valleys.

I was into basketball as a pre-teen. I played forward for a little while but really settled into my role as a guard. I played until junior high school when I stopped playing soccer and basketball and focused entirely on tennis, which lasted until high school when I smashed my last wood ra
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